When it comes to online marketing we know that we are living in a visual world and I am a visual girl (and if you didn’t just get the Madonna reference we can no longer be friends).
But what does a girl do when there are so many places to put images. There are two options as I see it take photos yourself or use stock images; let’s look at them both.
Taking photos yourself
To start with if you sell a product you really should have some great product photos. Yes, this will be an investment but for products, it’s one of the most important marketing investments you can make. We buy with our eyes when online shopping – not just what the product looks like but the lifestyle it suits. It’s a lot of work to get ready for a shoot – but on the day it can be a lot of fun.
For service businesses, such as myself, I think there is less of an expectation that the images on our site/social are something we’ve taken ourselves. That said real photos do have a place for us too, it gives us an opportunity to show people what you are up to especially on social media. I would also argue that you should have at least a few great head shots, especially for those entrepreneurs who are the face of the business. You will notice that across all my social platforms I use the same image of me. It’s one I really like both because of how I look in the photo and it reflects my brand.
Taking images yourself gives you full brand control (read an earlier post about brand voice) ensuring that the public perception of your brand/product is under your control. You know what you want images to say about your business and if you are in charge of the images you can ensure you get that.
The only way to improve your skills with a camera is to take photos so go out into the world and snap away. Lately, I have been using Instagram Stories as a place to put my practice images out in the world. I take photos of all sorts of things, a lot of skies actually, and that is where I share it. I have a rule to share at least one photo in there every day (which I stick to about 60% of the time). Instagram Stories are brilliant because they allow entrepreneurs to show the life behind the business without it overtaking our main/collated feeds.
Use stock images
Stock images allow us to find tailored, on brand images that we haven’t had to make a significant investment (cash/time) into. There are lots of great options out there now that aren’t your standard (read dull) corporate stock images. Places like Death to Stock Photo (where this post’s image came from) and Unsplash, amongst many others, have a range of images intended for entrepreneurs.
There are rules about how you use stock images, especially when you are using images from royalty free sites, so do check the licence agreement of any image you choose. Personally, I like to credit the photographer or at the very least where the image came from – mostly because I believe in good internet karma.
As is always the issue with stock images some become very popular and you start to see them everywhere. It can be a real bummer when that happens but I wouldn’t worry too much about it. The only time that becomes an issue for me is if you are using an image in an advertising campaign and a competitor does too (just creates brand confusion and will affect the effectiveness of your campaign).
Final thoughts on the matter
I believe in using a mix of both across my website and socials. I apply the same logic to the work I do with clients.
Play around with images to find what suits your business best. There is no hard and fast rule and you have to go with what works for you in this moment. Perhaps you dream of having a suite of glorious photos but that investment is a little out of your reach right now, that’s life and that’s budgeting.
What do you use? How do you mix images or do you use one exclusively?